A viral video depicting the heinous assault on two Kuki women in Manipur, which occurred on May 4, drew widespread public outrage after it surfaced on social media two days ago. The National Commission for Women (NCW) has faced criticism for its delayed response to the incident, with questions raised about its handling of the matter.
The NCW, after taking suo motu cognizance of the case on July 20, issued a condemnation of the shocking incident, calling on the Director-General of Police in Manipur to take swift and appropriate action in response to the grave injustice inflicted upon the victims.
However, it has come to light that the NCW had been previously alerted to the matter through a formal complaint sent on June 12. The complaint, filed by two Manipuri women and a Manipur tribal association based abroad, detailed the distressing incident, stating that the victims were subjected to public humiliation, physical assault, and rape by a marauding Meitei mob, Newslaundry reported.
The complainants, who had personally spoken to the survivors, sent the email to the NCW Chairperson, Rekha Sharma, using multiple email addresses associated with the commission. The complaint addressed the issue of systemic victimization and violence faced by Kuki-Zomi indigenous tribal women, including sexual violence, kidnapping, lynching, immolation, and murder, at the hands of aggressors using rape as a weapon of conflict.
The complainants disclosed that several Kuki-Zomi women had been forced to flee, some during the advanced stages of pregnancy or while recovering from C-section surgeries, seeking refuge in ad hoc camps. The gravity of the situation and the urgent appeal for intervention, however, seemingly fell on deaf ears as the NCW provided no response or acknowledgment to the complainants.
“Witness accounts reveal the most harrowing and distressing details, including the incrimination of Meitei women vigilantes as enablers and perpetrators of gender-based violence. Victims and survivors allege that Meitei women vigilantes have actively participated in the attacks and assaults on Kuki-Zomi women and children,” read the complaint.
It went on to say: “Several Kuki-Zomi women have been forced to flee for their lives during advanced stages of pregnancy or while recuperating from C-section surgeries. Some have given birth in ad hoc refugee camps…”
The complaint lodged with the National Commission for Women (NCW) brought to light a series of harrowing incidents in Manipur.
On May 3, at a university, female students faced a terrifying ordeal when they were forcefully evicted from their hostels and subjected to verbal harassment and abuse by a menacing mob. One brave student recounted hearing chilling chants of “kill Kuki women” while seeking refuge in a bathroom. The complaint stated that the Assam Rifles intervened to rescue the distressed students at 3.15 am.
The following day, May 4, a 22-year-old nursing student fell victim to a violent Meitei mob comprising about 40 individuals. During the attack, the assailants brutally harassed and assaulted her, with Meitei women among them shouting horrifying threats like “Rape her! Torture her! Cut her into pieces!” The vicious assault left her with her front teeth knocked out.
Tragically, on May 5, two women in their twenties suffered a nightmarish fate, falling prey to the hands of Meitei miscreants who raped and murdered them after confining them in a closed room for a horrifying two hours.
The violence continued on May 6, when a 45-year-old widow endured an excruciating ordeal as Meitei mobs brutally butchered her, shot her, and set her ablaze.
Adding to the distressing list of incidents, the complaint also highlighted the case of a 15-year-old girl who was kidnapped, and a subsequent medical examination confirmed that she had been subjected to assault and rape.